Primaries bid for millions to share

19th November 2004 at 00:00
New government scheme will allow groups of schools to swap and develop teaching ideas

Primary schools are to get pound;28 million to set up local networks allowing teachers to share best practice.

Every school and primary teacher will be in a local network by 2008 and "star" teachers could even run masterclasses demonstrating their expertise.

Teachers will be able to swap ideas on how to tackle particular problems such as boys' writing, foreign languages or speaking and listening for children for whom English is an additional language.

Networks of about six schools will be eligible for pound;17,000 each to spend on supply staff to allow teachers out of the classroom, specialised training or books and equipment, under the national primary strategy scheme.

Tim Coulson, national numeracy strategy director, said the scheme was very much about teachers saying what they want to achieve and deciding how to spend the money.

With this goal in mind, the Government has no blueprint for an effective network but applicants will have to submit a "compelling purpose" to their local authority which decides who qualifies.

Networks will also have to state how they intend to monitor their impact.

Mr Coulson, said: "What is most likely to happen is that there will initially be some observation of a class, with a teacher who is particularly good in a subject.

"Teachers might meet to discuss a particular area and decide to attend each others' classes to try out ideas or all try out different ideas and then come back to the table with their results.

"Networks are about trying to get those nuggets from schools that are doing really well and looking at the style of teaching they have."

It is anticipated local networks will be of particular benefit in rural areas, where heads and teachers can often feel isolated.

Chris Davies, chair of the National Primary Headteachers' Association, welcomed the networks saying they would encourage co-operation where league tables had resulted in competition between schools.

He said: "Some schools like to keep their expertise under their bushel because they want to stay ahead and I think that's very sad."

David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said teachers would embrace networks provided they were not dominated by the local authority's own agenda.

He said: "Teachers want to collaborate and exchange good practice and there is a tremendous amount to be achieved through these neworks."

For more information and to apply to become a network go to Primary forum 24

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